The End of the Fruit Man and the Challenge of Obtaining Produce
September 29, 2007
North Africa page: http://canciondelvagabundo.googlepages.com/northafrica
My fruit man tried to hustle me yesterday. Perhaps he thought that I am so stupid that I would not notice if he tried to charge me twice as much for my fruit than he usually does. I noticed, and just walked away, disgusted and mango-less. My run with this fruit man has come to an end. I once though that he was a beacon of urban fruit vending honesty, but I was mistaken. I weep because I liked this one; he was really really small and would smile at me when I would give him my produce to weight. But it is over. On to the next fruit man . . .
Finding a good fruit man in a city is, oddly, one of the most daunting task that I found in travelling. In only a select few countries (like China) do you not get routinely ripped off while trying to buy fruits and vegetables in urban areas (country people, as a rule, are less apt to hustle travelers and there is also more supply and less demand than in cities). Now, I realize that I do not know the going rate of fruits and vegetables in every country that I travel through, but I do know that a few bananas should not cost two dollars in Morocco; Mongolia maybe, but not Morocco. After you have been travelling for a while you kind of develop a world-wide gage for how much things should cost. But produce vendors in cities seem to think that I have no idea how much a bundle of bananas should cost, and they usually shoot high- way high- as a rule (all foreigners are rich, right?). I can not blame the vendors, as they are just trying to make an easy buck off of people that they think money has no value to anyway. I have also watched Europeans pay over two dollars for a few bananas in Morocco. I would actually assume that charging foreigners these exponentially raised prices probably works 8 out of 10 times.
The problem for me comes when I refuse to pay a bloated price on principle. I stroll up to a produce cart, pick out what I want to eat, a nonsensical show of “weighing” the fruit ensues, and I am often charged a crazy price. Rather that paying it, I usually scoff, turn, and walk away fruitless. Who wins? I do not lower my “principles” and pay an increased price, but I also do not have any fruit to eat.
I need to just stay in the countryside, where I can gobble down fruits at will and pick vegetables right off the vine. Dogs eat other dogs in every city on this planet. It is just the way that it has always been . . . since Cain abandoned the ways of pastoral migration and build the first city walls. . . since Romulus and Remus battled for the right to found Rome . . .and onward into the annals of civilization: the history of brother fighting brother.